Cambridgeshire police has been rated as ‘good’ but improvements needed on how staff deal can share “problem solving plans” routinely to prevent anti-social behaviour, a report has said.
Cambridgeshire police has been rated as 'good' following an inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) but improvements need to be made to how the force monitors the effectiveness of their neighbourhood policing strategy.
The inspection, which took place in June last year, looked at police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL), and for the first year combined the three pillars into a single inspection.
The inspectors praised the implementation of the local policing review in 2018, which aimed to create a sustainable policing model to enable the force to manage our demand more effectively and ensure our resources are in the right place, helping to alleviate pressure on frontline delivery.
In addition, it recognised further improvements, specifically within the areas of child abuse investigation and the rape investigation team. The report also highlighted additional investment within the volume crime arena.
Highlighting improvements the report said: " The force should monitor the effectiveness of its newly launched neighbourhood policing strategy and consistently hold staff to account for delivering effective performance outcomes. They should evaluate and share problem-solving plans routinely to improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour."
The report also stated that the force "should take steps to make information more accessible to staff to improve its use of orders and powers to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour."
The report also commented on the average emergency response times for domestic violence cases.
It said: "During the 12 months to March 2019, force data shows that its response to emergency calls of domestic abuse was 13 minutes, on average. However, some reports that required a prompt-grade response in the period up to April 2019 took officers over three hours to attend. These delays could cause victims to withdraw their support for a prosecution and the force could be missing opportunities to gather evidence and protect victims. Nonetheless, it is taking positive action."
The report also states improvements made by the force saying: "In our effectiveness report, we said the force required improvement in its effectiveness at investigation crime and catching criminals. We are pleased to note it has made good progress in most areas, however it hasn't yet made enough progress to make sure that its investigations are routinely and effectively supervised."
Chief Constable Nick Dean said: "We are delighted with the HMICFRS judgement of 'good' across all three categories in the inspection. They should should evaluate and share problem-solving plans routinely to
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improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
"A great deal of hard work and effort has gone into shaping the force to understand the complexity and scale of our demand, aligning our workforce plans to our priorities, and ensuring we have the resources and skills we need to be able to meet the needs of our growing communities.
"This has clearly had an impact and the improvements we have made and are continuing to make in the way we investigate crime and manage vulnerability effectively have been recognised by HMICFRS."
The report praised the force's identification and understanding of vulnerability, highlighting the joint working between community safety and the victim and witness hub to support vulnerable victims as 'good practice' and the work of call handlers to quickly identify the most vulnerable callers, especially those suffering mental health crisis.
HMICFRS also commended the force for its prioritisation of crime prevention and commitment to policing neighbourhoods, mentioning in particular the increase of 50 officers as a result of the precept increase in 2019/20. The report says they were impressed with the neighbourhood policing strategy, and the way the new policing model helps meet the demands of serious and complex crime investigation, which has improved significantly.
While the overall grading is good, there are some improvements to be made, highlighted by HMICFRS, including ensuring the regular and active supervision of the quality and progress of investigations and making sure learning is shared to continue to improve the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
Mr Dean added: "Everyone across the Constabulary has worked hard to improve how we prevent crime, investigate crime and continue to keep people safe. It is to their credit that we have received such a positive inspection report.
"Our focus on protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims has been paramount, and we are pleased HMICFRS have acknowledged this.
"While there are always areas for improvement, I am reassured that they can see we continue to make good progress and are committed to keeping the people of Cambridgeshire safe."
Acting Police and Crime Commissioner, Ray Bisby, said: "The Chief Constable and his team have worked incredibly hard to bring about these results and I am pleased to see HMICFRS have recognised the improvements made in keeping communities safe and tackling crime across the county.
"As Acting Police and Crime Commissioner, it is important that I do everything I can to make sure the Constabulary has the resources it needs in order to maintain and improve its 'good' grading. There will always be challenges, but I am reassured that the Force is in the best possible position to respond to increased demand for service."
Other improvements include the force ensuring that "all staff have received at least the lowest level of vetting clearance for their roles and clear any backlogs ensuring it is fully compliant with the national vetting guidelines" and that work should be done to "improve its workforce's knowledge and understanding of the abuse of position for a sexual purpose."